Uncle Ho (documentary photo)

On the occasion of the 130th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh, many conferences and seminars have been held nationwide so that the Vietnamese people are once more proud of their beloved leader.

In such an event, former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan recounted his touching and unforgettable stories when accompanying Uncle Ho paying official visits to foreign countries as an interpreter. During such close contact, he really admired a simple but very noble person, who felt the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures in Uncle Ho. In particular, with this veteran diplomat, he had never seen anyone studying foreign languages as hard as Uncle Ho.

Mr. Vu Khoan shared that through many business trips abroad, except for official visits, Uncle Ho never took a special aircraft, although the partner sides were always ready to provide a special plane for him.

Accompanying him were only a few people, including secretary Vu Ky, doctor Nhu The Bao and many times without guards and attenders. In some trips, there were only 1-2 senior officials related to the topic Uncle Ho worked with his partner, but never a "majestic", "massive" delegation following to serve Uncle Ho.

Mr. Vu Khoan still remembers the trip to the Soviet Union to serve Uncle Ho. During that trip, Uncle Ho also washed his own clothes, and without bothering waitresses, when he finished his meal, he himself brought his bowls and dishes to the kitchen.

"Uncle Ho urged us to save, he himself represents it; he did not say one thing and do another," shared the former Deputy Prime Minister.

According to Mr. Vu Khoan, among the leaders of the communist and international workers movements, Uncle Ho was the only one imbued with Eastern and Western cultures in himself. 

“Uncle Ho's diplomatic culture is a mixture of elegance of the Western form and sincerity and profoundness of the Eastern people. That is what we should study in Uncle Ho. Because Uncle Ho has a very deep cultural knowledge, he was able to behave like that,” said Mr. Vu Khoan.

He cited a memory on a business trip with a very solemn reception, the first one Uncle Ho greeted was not a leader but an acquaintance from when he worked in the Communist International. He went to greet the secretary first and then greet the others. Before going to greet the secretary, he did not forget to hold a flower on the table to give her.

Or when he went to India, the Indian side organized a great rally. On the stage, they arranged a row of chairs for Indian leaders and Uncle Ho. Because the chair for Uncle Ho was like a king's chair, he definitely didn’t sit but he sat on the floor. Then the Indian side gave him a wool rug, Uncle Ho rolled it up and carried it over his shoulder. Seeing that scene, tens of thousands of people stood up to applaud when they saw a President carrying the rug on his shoulder.

“Those stories showed that Uncle Ho embodied the Eastern and the Western cultures, which is very natural, simple and sincere. For that reason, UNESCO has honored President Ho Chi Minh with the title: Hero of National Liberation and World Cultural Celebrity,” said Mr. Vu Khoan.

Former Deputy PM Vu Khoan (Photo: viettimes.vn)

President Ho Chi Minh was a typical example of the spirit of self-study and study for his lifelong. He said that studying was not just at school or going to class but in every revolutionary activity, we all have to study. Many times being an interpreter for Uncle Ho, witnessing the spirit of self-study, humility and simplicity of Uncle Ho left in Mr. Vu Khoan unforgettable impressions and he himself also learned precious things from Uncle Ho.

Former Deputy Prime Minister said that everyone knows that Uncle Ho was very good at foreign languages and knew many languages. Later, even though he was the President and his age was high, he still studied hard.

In 1967, during a time being an interpreter for Uncle Ho, while waiting for his partner, Mr. Vu Khoan saw Uncle Ho open his cigarette case to take a cigarette to smoke and also take a small piece of paper, he mumbled some Russian words over and over. "Do you still learn Russian?" - Mr. Vu Khoan boldly asked Uncle Ho. Uncle Ho said that he had not used it for a long time, so he forgot a lot, I study again and learn more by writing a few words on a piece of paper to put into the cigarette case. Each time he got cigarette, he would repeat them again.

“Uncle Ho usually put 20 small sheets of paper, each sheet he wrote a new word, if it falls off, he can still learn ten new words a day. I am sure that no one is willing to learn foreign languages like Uncle Ho. As a leader, who is knowledgeable, elderly and whenever needed, Uncle Ho can call any interpreter but he still learnt foreign languages by himself,” said Mr. Vu Khoan.

The example of Uncle Ho's foreign language learning has been and will continue to be mentioned because it is important in the integration period.

Many documents recorded that in the profile of the delegate attending the 7th Congress of the Communist International, Uncle Ho was described: "Knowing languages of French, English, Chinese, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese."

In addition to relying on Uncle Ho's visits to foreign countries, as well as the receptions of diplomatic missions to Vietnam, he was also able to quite fluently use a lot of other foreign languages such as: Siamese (Thailand), Arabic and languages of Vietnamese ethnic minority groups.

Not only studying in books, but Uncle Ho also found an effective way to learn from the habit of communicating with foreigners. Uncle Ho was very brave, and didn’t hesitate to communicate with indigenous people. Anytime and anywhere he can study and didn’t waste any time and any opportunity.

The small stories about Uncle Ho carry the beauty of a man who had a great but so simple life, spreading forever to our generation today and tomorrow./.

BTA